Editorial: Advertisers must step up game to win viewers

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

“Quiet! A commercial is about to come on,” are words rarely spoken by television viewers, but every year thousands tune in to the Super Bowl, sometimes exclusively to watch ads.

These ads are highly anticipated by audiences and cost companies millions. Even after they have aired they have a large online presence, where they are rewatched multiple times by millions.

Viewers expected to be entertained by advertisements during the Super Bowl, and they were not disappointed this year. From Audi’s headlights killing off an entire vampire party, to a man hallucinating a seductive woman upon viewing a Fiat, to a dog bribing his owner with Doritos to cover up a cat murder, this year’s ads did not disappoint.

How often, though, do regularly programmed commercials truly entertain us? Recently Old Spice and Proctor & Gamble came out with a new co-branded advertisement that contains an advertisement within an advertisement.

The series of commercials begins as an ad for a household product such as Bounce or Charmin but is interrupted by Terry Crews for Old Spice declaring that Old Spice is too strong to stay in its own commercial.

Proctor & Gamble and Old Spice launched the ads on YouTube last Wednesday; since then they have gone viral. The commercials were expected to air Monday, bringing a truly original advertisement to television sets. The Old Spice/Bounce commercial has more than 2 million views on YouTube, while the Old Spice/Charmin commercial has just fewer than 500,000 views.

Many wonder whether co-branded commercials are the ads of the future. While the Charmin/Bounce/Old Spice commercials have created a commotion, not all of the attention is positive. Some are irritated with the advertisements and see the ads as advertisers stooping to new lows to get attention. Others see them as being innovative.

In a time when audiences despise ads and can easily avoid them with the help of devices like DVR, it is imperative that advertisement agencies get creative to attract viewers. Surely a co-branded advertisement is better than seeing another predictable, overly sexualized GoDaddy ad.

To reach target audiences, agencies and marketing departments need to create advertisements people want to watch. Releasing the ads on YouTube first caused the ads to circulate and built up hype. Now when they air on television, viewers may stay tuned to watch the advertisement – especially if they had not seen it before, but heard about it.

The Old Spice commercials work because they are unexpected; they do not depend on cheap gimmicks to draw attention. While it is important for ads to attract an audience’s attention both on the TV and online, advertisers must remember quality. Let’s hope we see the production of intelligent, creative advertisements during this change in advertising.